It’s not surprising that some people think elementary schools abound with sticky surfaces; after all, K-12 schools are “home base” for hundreds of students and teachers.
What may be surprising is that a sticky surface is often not at all what we think.
While we may envision spilled juice and glue or paste, the word “sticky” — especially from an operations perspective — has little to do with spills; instead, it has to do with what flat surfaces attract.
Flat surfaces often become a magnet for clutter and chaos, leading to an unkempt and potentially unhygienic environment.
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Those flat surfaces, from desks to countertops to locker room floors, act “sticky.”
Once an item is placed on the flat surface, it is often likely to stay there for some time — somewhat “stuck” in place.
Those items, in turn, seem to cause other objects to stick to them, creating piles.
Such a sticky chain reaction presents a challenge for those in charge of streamlining the cleaning process.
Achieving the goal of producing healthy schools means staffs must be able to thoroughly clean surfaces.
Often, those very surfaces are covered with materials that seem to be stuck and permanently piled there.
Promoting Slippery Surfaces
The concept of conquering clutter by viewing surfaces as initially sticky, but then making them slippery — the polar opposite of sticky — is the brainchild of Miss Minimalist, a nickname for author Francine Jay.
In her book, “The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide,” Jay explains how our imaginary slippery surface works.
Jay, who focuses on how to declutter, organize and simplify your life, says that we need to imagine our surfaces as slippery.
“If they were as slick as ice, or tilted just a few degrees, nothing would be able to stay on them for very long,” notes Jay. “All we need to conquer our surface clutter is a new attitude and enthusiastic adherence to the following principle: Most flat surfaces are not for storage.”
Surfaces are for activities:
Approach clutter with two simple questions:
1. Do these items represent an activity by a student, teacher or staff member?
If so, they can stay; if the activity is complete, they should be moved.
2. Are these items being stored improperly here?
If the answer is yes, they should be moved to an appropriate storage area such as a file cabinet, desk drawer, bookshelf or storage closet.
“Everything we place on our slippery surfaces leaves with us when we leave the room,” proclaims Jay in speaking of how to keep decluttered surfaces clear.
Encourage clear surfaces by:
As Miss Minimalist says, “Heed this rule: If the room is empty, the surfaces should be too.”
After all, only clear and clutter-free surfaces can be properly cleaned.